Recall of MPs

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2.9Most by-elections occur through the sitting member dying or becoming disqualified (for which see Chapter 3). A by-election may also be triggered through the Recall of MPs Act 2015. This provides that a recall petition is triggered if any of three conditions is met. The conditions are:

  1. A Member has, after becoming a Member, been convicted in the United Kingdom of an offence and sentenced or ordered to be imprisoned or detained, and the appeal period expired without the conviction, sentence or order having been overturned on appeal.1
  2. Following a report from the Committee on Standards1A in relation to a Member, the House of Commons orders the suspension of the Member from the service of the House for a specified period of at least 10 sitting days, or of at least 14 days.2
  3. A Member has, after becoming a Member, been convicted of an offence under section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (offence of providing false or misleading information for allowances claims), and the appeal period expired without the conviction having been overturned on appeal.3

If either the first or third condition is met, the court that imposes the sentence or order in relation to the conviction must notify the Speaker.

Under the terms of section 5 of the Act, as soon as reasonably practicable after becoming aware that one of the conditions has been met, the Speaker is required to write to the relevant petition officer, informing them that a Member has met one of the conditions that make the Member subject to a recall petition under that Act.4

The Speaker is not required to give notice in the following circumstances:

  1. within the period of six months ending with the polling day for the next parliamentary general election;
  2. when the MP is already subject to a recall petition process; or
  3. when the MP's seat has already been vacated (whether by the MP's disqualification or death, or otherwise).

A recall petition is administered in accordance with the provisions of the Act by the petition officer for the constituency concerned. The petition officer has ten working days to set up and open the petition for signature, or longer if it is not practicable to do it within that time. The petition is made available for signing for a specified period of six weeks. The petition officer may designate a maximum of ten places at which the recall petition is made available for signing. Electors may sign the petition in person, by post or by proxy.

If the petition achieves the necessary number of signatures—at least 10% of the number of eligible registered electors in that constituency—the petition officer notifies the Speaker and the seat is made vacant from the date of that notification.5

If a seat is vacated as a result of a recall petition, the Member is not prevented from standing in the ensuing by-election.

Footnotes

  1. 1. HC Deb (11 February 2019) 654, c 593.
  2. 1A. Or any committee of the House of Commons concerned with the standards of conduct of individual Members of that House. Suspensions ordered by the House following a report from the Independent Expert Panel do not trigger the Act's provisions as the Panel is not a Committee of the House.
  3. 2. HC Deb (24 July 2018) 645, c 925.
  4. 3. HC Deb (24 April 2019) 658, c 758.
  5. 4. The Speaker was required to write to a petition officer, for the first time, after a Member was suspended from the service of the House for 30 sitting days on 24 July 2018: HC Deb (24 July 2018) 645, c 928.
  6. 5. Votes and Proceedings, 1 May 2019, and HC Deb (1 May 2019) 659, c 310.